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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: July 15, 2019 10:55 AM
From: Senator Daylin Leach
To: All Senate members
Subject: Retail Plastic Bag Ban
Soon I will introduce a bill to ban the dispensing of single-use plastic bags in retail stores.

Since China has stopped accepting our recyclable waste, it has become clear that Pennsylvania’s infrastructure for recycling plastic bags is woefully inadequate. The bags are made from flexible plastics that jam recycling machines, which force plants to close while they repair their machines. To prevent work stoppage, recycling plants have been sending plastic bags to landfills, where it takes at least 500 years for plastic bags to degrade. Furthermore, only one percent of plastic bags are recycled. Many are dropped in streets, parks, waterways, etc. Animals and fish often get entangled in these bags, leading to their injury or death. The bags often clog drains and sewer lines.

California, Hawaii, and New York have banned single-use plastic bags in retail environments, and 200 cities have implemented a ban or imposed fees. Seattle has experienced a 48 percent decline in plastic bag waste and San Francisco has saved around $600,000 a year in plastic processing costs. Our Commonwealth would benefit from the environmental and fiscal results of such a ban.

This bill constitutes an update to my previous plastic bag bill, which established a fee on retail plastic bags. The most effective plastic bag fees only reduce use by about 20 percent. We need to go farther than that.

Please join me in supporting this important legislation.

If you have questions about this legislation, please don’t hesitate to contact me.